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Dirt roads and planting asparagus

by Linda Monohan

Much of the wet snow we had in Fish Springs last week melted into slimy mud on the dirt roads. My husband and I just happen to live on one of those slushy roads and we saw two large vehicles get stuck in the muddy soup. Both of them had to be towed out. Actually the roads are a lot better now than 25 years ago when we first moved here. We used to drive about 11 miles on dirt and that was by way of the dump road since Toler Road was not yet connected to Fish Springs. Now we only have to drive 3Ú4 mile on dirt roads to get to our home at the north end of Fish Springs.

Many years ago Lee Pitts wrote an essay about dirt roads in the “Livestock Market Digest.”

It went something like this: “Dirt roads build character. People who live at the end of a dirt road learn that life is a bumpy ride, but it’s worth it if waiting at the other end is home, a loving spouse, happy kids and a frisky dog. Our values were better when our roads were worse. People didn’t worship their cars more than their kids. And motorists are more friendly and courteous on a dirt road. You don’t tailgate or the guy in front of you will choke you with dust and pelt you with rocks. Dirt roads teach patience.”

“If it rains and the dirt road gets washed out, you get to stay home and have some family time. Most paved roads lead to trouble, but dirt roads are more likely to lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole. Criminals do not go 2 dusty miles to rob or rape if they know they’ll be welcomed by five barking dogs and a double-barrel shotgun. Living at the end of a dirt road, the only time we lock our car is in August, because if we don’t, some neighbor will fill it with too much zucchini.”

I love that story.

Right after Thanksgiving this year we started receiving seed catalogs. That was very early as we usually don’t get them until after Christmas. It gave me the itch to start thinking about gardening. And then I saw asparagus for sale at Wal-Mart. I caved in and bought a package of 10 “all-male hybrids.” After all the rain and snow we had, the ground was easy to cultivate. I couldn’t help myself; I planted them in the snow.

Each time I pulled my shovel out of the wet ground, I saw lots of juicy worms crawling around in my foot-deep trench. I mixed some seasoned goat manure and straw in with the soil because I really love fresh asparagus. Succulent asparagus and tart rhubarb were the first perennials to emerge from Mother Earth last spring. But sometimes, when the asparagus comes up early in May, it freezes back. But it’s usually is OK by June.

And why buy all-male hybrid asparagus?

According to the planting instructions, “The all-male varieties produce spears only on male plants. Seeds produced on female plants fall to the ground and become a seedling weed problem in the garden. Female plants also have to expend more energy to produce the seeds that decreases the yields of asparagus spears on female plants. For these reasons, the all-male hybrids out-yield the old M. Washington varieties.”

We’ll see about that.